15 World Cup Stars Who Are Better for Their Country Than Their Club

Max Munton@thisisanfieldLiverpool CorrespondentJune 19, 2014

15 World Cup Stars Who Are Better for Their Country Than Their Club

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    Hassan Ammar/Associated Press

    The World Cup, arguably football's biggest stage, can bring out the best in some players—even if they're not doing the business for their clubs.

    The 2013-14 season was disappointing for many World Cup stars, but they've still managed to help their countries qualify for this summer's tournament in Brazil.

    This list highlights 15 players who play better for their countries than they do for their clubs, for a variety of reasons.

    Some conclusions are drawn on the players' recent form and start to the World Cup, whilst some are based on their glittering international records.

    Owing to Manchester United's dreary season in the Premier League and their plethora of international players, the list is littered with their players.

    Are there any other players you believe play better for their country than their club? Is the list too harsh on some? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below this slideshow.


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    After his €87 million move from Santos to Barcelona last summer, Neymar has so far struggled to live up to his expectations.

    A poor season by Barcelona's standards and Neymar scored just nine times in 26 La Liga appearances.

    He could well still steal the show for Brazil though after his two goals in their opening Group A game against Croatia.

Giovani Dos Santos

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    Giovani dos Santos scored 11 goals in 31 appearances for Villarreal in 2013-14, as his club stumbled to a sixth-place finish in La Liga.

    Although yet to score, Dos Santos has looked sharp in Mexico's opening two Group A games against Cameroon and Brazil.

Marouane Fellaini

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    Despite a very mediocre first season at Manchester United, following his big-money move from Everton, Marouane Fellaini remains a popular figure in Belgium.

    His well-directed header to help Belgium overturn a 1-0 deficit in their opening World Cup 2014 game against Algeria, was matched by a much-improved performance to those that graced Old Trafford last season.

Mesut Ozil

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    Mesut Ozil arrived at Arsenal in 2013 with a big price tag and high expectations.

    Struggling to adapt into Arsene Wenger's system with the players around him, the 25-year-old will be hoping for better things in 2014-15.

    He remains a big part of Germany's national team though, starting their World Cup opener against Portugal and having scored 17 goals in 56 appearances for his country.

Miroslav Klose

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    Despite reaching the grand old age of 36 just days before the start of World Cup 2014, German veteran Miroslav Klose continues to be part of his country's plans.

    Germany have never lost a game in which Klose has scored, but with a plethora of attacking talent, he may struggle for a game at the World Cup.

    His club football is still going fairly strong, with seven goals in 25 Serie A appearances for Lazio in 2013-14, but his 69 goals in 80 international appearances for Germany make him something of a legend.

Thomas Mueller

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    Another Bundesliga title in the bag for Bayern Munich in 2013-14, and striker Thomas Mueller scored 13 goals on their way to glory.

    But his incredible start to the World Cup must trump his club form.

    The 24-year-old smashed home a hat-trick in Germany's opening game against Portugal.

Shinji Kagawa

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    Shinji Kagawa's career at Manchester United has struggled to get going since his move from Borussia Dortmund in 2012.

    Often played out of position by both Alex Ferguson and David Moyes, it is no wonder that Kagawa plays his best football for Japan.

Helder Postiga

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    Helder Postiga's club career is very much slowing down. The 31-year-old was loaned out by Valencia in 2013-14 to Lazio, where he made little impact.

    Over his international career, however, Postiga has been a staple of Portugal goals with 27 in 29 appearances.

Robin Van Persie

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    Robin Van Persie looked uninterested at times during Manchester United's deflating 2013-14 campaign under David Moyes.

    The Dutch striker seems to have found a renewed passion for the game though, scoring a stunning header against Spain in Holland's opening game.

    That was followed by another against the reigning world champions, and a great finish against Australia in Holland's second Group B game.

    His record of 46 goals in 86 international appearances speaks for itself.

Hugo Almeida

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    At 30 years of age, Hugo Almeida's club career is far from faltering, playing a helping hand in Besiktas' triumphant Turkish Cup campaign this year.

    But he also continues to be one of Portugal's top performers, with 56 caps to his name.

    A quiet appearance against Germany in Portugal's opening game was not out of character with the rest of his side's disappointing performance.

    There could still be much more in this World Cup for Almeida.

Eduardo Vargas

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    Christophe Ena/Associated Press

    Just three goals in 17 La Liga appearances made for a disappointing, though injury-hit, season for Valencia and Chile's Eduardo Vargas.

    There seems to be little room for Vargas at his parent club, Lazio, after two loan spells at Gremio and Valencia, but 15 goals in 32 international appearances suggests a different player turns out for his country.

    A well-taken goal to help Chile sink Spain kick-started Vargas' World Cup this week.

Javier Hernandez

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    Often used as an impact player from the substitutes' bench at Manchester United, Javier Hernandez didn't enjoy the best of seasons in 2013-14.

    He scored just four times in 24 appearances in a very stop start campaign.

    Yet he continues to appear regularly for Mexico and his international record of 35 goals in 64 appearances (many as a substitute) is impressive.

Lukas Podolski

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    Injury has stuttered the start of Lukas Podolski's career at Arsenal since his move to north London in 2012, although eight goals in 20 appearances in 2013-14 showed glimpses of promise for the German.

    His international record, meanwhile, shows why he's so highly regarded in his homeland, with 47 goals from 115 games.

    But with Thomas Mueller firing in the goals for Germany, Podolski may well find it hard to get more game time during this World Cup.


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    Bewilderingly signing a new five-year contract with Manchester United in August 2013, Nani's downward spiral continued in 2013-14 with a dreary season at Old Trafford.

    A season of injuries and poor form meant Nani made just 11 appearances for United prior to the World Cup, but he remains a regular starter for Portugal.

Danny Welbeck

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    Danny Welbeck looks a little lost in his career. Overshadowed by blind faith at club level in Wayne Rooney, he gets little chance in his favoured position.

    His international career has told a similar story so far, though he has notched up eight goals in 24 appearances for England.

    Roy Hodgson has confidence in the 23-year-old, starting him in England's opening World Cup game—the 2-1 defeat to Italy in Manaus.